Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Posts tagged “Father

Conversation on the Trinity

Here is a conversation on the Trinity that is an extract from the comments after a blogpost. Check the post for the complete discussion that took place over a period of more than three months.

Commentator 11 October

George I have to tread carefully here. My intent is not to say that Christianity is untrue or that the Bible itself is untrue. That would be disrespectful to you. I am only concerned with how you are evaluating other religions and your methodology. But you keep making statements about the Bibles accuracy that are based on your own faith and one particular interpretation not historical or scholarly fact. This is why when we started this conversation instead of attacking Christianity in any way I was pointing out that there were more than one interpretation of Christ, his teachings, and his relationship to God at the time of his death. What that means is that one particular group cannot really claim theirs as the only true understanding. To many historians, archaeologists and scholars the Bible has many contradictions. The Bible is interpreted by many groups differently. So saying that there is only one understanding or interpretation is just not accurate. So as a way to demonstrate I will go back to one of those differences I mentioned earlier, the Trinity. There were some groups of Christians (and still are) that view God, Christ, and the holy spirit as separate beings. If I am correct George you do not believe in this interpretation. So to kind of show that each individuals understanding of the Bible is based on their or their denominations interpretation of the Bible in reference to any particular topic. So here are several quotes from the Bible that if you read them and do not interpret them through your own denominations lens they clearly say that God the Father and his Son Jesus were separate. Jesus himself is referring to himself and God as being separate in each one of them. To say that is not what he is saying is in my opinion linguistically impossible. It would certainly twist reason. To show that this is a matter of interpretation I would like for you to explain how they do not say that they are separate without referencing other passages. The reason I am saying that is, is that I can list out three times as many of these that support the idea that they are separate. Because of space I did not want to list them all. So it really makes no logical sense that you can refute these by just listing a number of other quotes that you interpret as saying that God, Jesus, and the holy spirit are one. If you choose to give a list of quotes that support your interpretation then effectively all you have done is prove an inconsistency.

Mark 10:18 (KJV): “And Jesus said unto him, why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God.”
Mark 13:32: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
Mark 15:34: “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
John 5:19: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.”
John 5:26: “For the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”
John 7:16: “Jesus answered them, and said, my doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.”
John 7:17: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

George I am still not trying to say that you or your interpretation is wrong. What I am saying is there is room for more than one interpretation and only you through your faith can decide what is right. The truth is absolute but no ones interpretation of the Bible is absolute.

Well at least you can see that I do own a Bible and have read it.! Take care George!

George’s reply 14 October

Thanks for the comment. You say, “To many historians, archaeologists and scholars the Bible has many contradictions”. I am aware of this, but I understand that these apparent contradictions can be harmonized. If you know of any that are not able to be resolved, please let me know. By the way, different eyewitnesses will not give identical accounts of the same event unless there has been collusion.

You say “The Bible is interpreted by many groups differently. So saying that there is only one understanding or interpretation is just not accurate.” That is true and it’s why I rely on the Bible as an objective source of Christian belief. The main message of the Bible is clear and it is stated repetitively. It’s not ambiguous. Jesus came to reconcile humanity with God and to ultimately restore His creation. If we don’t personally accept that He took the penalty that we deserved, we face eternal punishment in hell. I don’t want you (or anyone) to face a future like that!

You say that some Christians believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are “separate beings” and quote seven Bible verses that seem to support this. The answer is that they are separate (distinct) persons, but one essence (being). Each of the verses quoted refer to God the Father and Jesus Christ as separate persons.

Commentator 15 October

George said, “You say that some Christians believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are “separate beings” and quotes seven Bible verses that seem to support this. The answer is that they are separate (distinct) persons, but one essence (being). Each of the verses quoted refer to God the Father and Jesus Christ as separate persons.”

So George you are saying that they are “but one essence (being)” in other words one “being”. “You say that some Christians believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are “separate beings” and quotes seven Bible verses that seem to support this.” The distinction is that you say one being and others say three separate beings. And these verses do not “seem” to show this, they emphatically show this.

Definition of Trinity: the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead according to Christian dogma.

Definition of godhead:
1 divine nature or essence
2 God

The definition above agrees with you George, Jesus , the holy ghost, and God are one being called God. The problem is that the Bible does not.

Mark 13:32: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”

If you take this sentence apart man, the son (Jesus), and the angels do not know the hour. Only the father knows the hour (they are separate otherwise they would both know). If they are the same being this is impossible. If they were the same being Jesus and the father would know what the angels and man do not. The Bible says that they are separate beings not one. Bible believing Christians want to take the Bible literally until they get to passages that cause them a problem. There is no amount of linguistic gymnastics that you can do to make this statement mean that god and Jesus are one being.

George’s reply 28 October

Thanks for the comment. With regard to the trinity you say, “you say one being and others say three separate beings”. It’s what the Bible says that counts, not what I or someone else may say. In exegesis, it’s dangerous to interpret a verse without considering its context and what the Bible says elsewhere on the topic. The Bible is an integrated book, not isolated verses.

The Bible says that Jesus is God (Rom. 9:5). He is the exact representation of God’s being (Jn. 14:9, Heb. 1:3).
“Anyone who has seen me [Jesus] has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9NIV).
“The Son [Jesus] is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His [God’s] being, sustaining all things by His [Jesus’] powerful word” (Heb. 1:3NIV).
“The Son [Jesus] radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He [Jesus] sustains everything by the mighty power of His [Jesus’] command” (Heb. 1:3NLT).

The Bible also says that Jesus is equal with God the Father:
“I [Jesus] and the Father are one” (Jn. 10:30).
“I [Jesus] am in the Father, and the Father is in me [Jesus]” (Jn. 10:38, 14:10-11).
“He [Jesus] was God” and so Jesus had “equality with God” (Phil. 2:6).

The God of the Bible is monotheistic, not tri-theistic. Trying to understand the trinity is like Job trying to understand God. God said that Job was speaking “ignorant words” or “words without knowledge” (Job 38:2). Job was ignorant about God. After a revelation of God’s wisdom, power, providence and sovereignty in nature (Job 39-41), Job repented of his pride and acknowledged “surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job. 42:1-6). When Job was trying to understand God, he was talking about things he knew nothing about. Likewise, when we are discussing the trinity, we are discussing things we know very little about. We don’t understand God’s power (it’s infinite). We don’t understand God’s goodness (it’s perfect). And we don’t understand God’s composition (one being but three persons).

Here’s a verse that shows that Jesus is both the same as God and separate from God in some way, “In the beginning [of time] the Word [Jesus] already existed. The Word [Jesus] was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God” (Jn. 1:1). It’s perplexing to us because this mystery is beyond our human experience. As an ant is ignorant of the universe, we are ignorant of the unseen spiritual world (except for what is revealed in the Bible). After all, we can’t assume that the unseen spiritual world is like our physical world.

When Jesus said He didn’t know when He would return to earth to set up His kingdom (Mk. 13:32), it shows that He wasn’t always omniscient. Whereas, on another occasion He was omniscient (Jn. 1:48). This could be an example of a divine power that He gave up when He came to earth – “He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave” (Phil. 2:7NLT). Also, see my blogpost for another possible explanation of Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32.

Commentator 28 October

George, you still don’t get it. All you do is repeat bible quotes that if I really had the desire and the energy I could use the very same bible to refute them.

George’s reply 9 November

Thanks for the comment. You say you could use the Bible to refute bible quotes. You imply that the Bible is contradictory. But the only case presented in all your comments relates to the trinity, which I have answered in some detail. The main points were that the Bible is an integrated book, not isolated verses. And because we are finite, we don’t understand God’s composition (one being but three persons).

Commentator 10 November

George says: “You say you could use the Bible to refute bible quotes. You imply that the Bible is contradictory. But the only case presented in all your comments relates to the trinity, which I have answered in some detail. The main points were that the Bible is an integrated book, not isolated verses. And because we are finite, we don’t understand God’s composition (one being but three persons).”

As I have repeatedly stated I am refuting your methodology in attacking other religions not claiming your religion is false. I gave you 7 verses that anyone with a elementary school level education in the English language would say after reading them that they are referring to separate beings. Your answer is “And because we are finite, we don’t understand God’s composition (one being but three persons)”.

No George this has nothing to do with us not understanding God. We understand the English language just fine and understand what those verses say. You are giving these verses a meaning that they don’t say, one being but three persons. You can argue that these verses say “one being but three persons” all you want but it is just in your imagination because no where in them do those words appear.

This has been one of the problems with this discussion from the beginning. You like to make statements as fact that just are not fact at all. When you do not have an answer for what I give your answer is that you just do not answer.

Commentator 21 November

I gave you 7 bible verses where in plain English it says that the Father, son, and holy ghosts were separate. You ignore this fact and claim otherwise.

Commentator 22 November

You say that the bible is consistent. I brought up before the different views on the trinity and you, like usual, came back in an authoritative way proclaiming that the bible clear teaches the trinity but that I just did not understand it. Well here is a write up by a fellow Christian that uses the bible to disprove the notion of the trinity and gives 74 reasons why, oddly taken right from …………wait for it…………………the bible (see Appendix A)! His name is Michael A. Barber, in fact he has written a whole book on it! Funny George I thought that this argument was settled? I guess there is more than one interpretation of the Bible isn’t there.

George’s reply 26 November

Thanks for the previous three comments. You used seven verses about the trinity to claim that the trinity is comprised of three separate beings, which is different to the traditional explanation that the trinity is one being but three persons. Why the difference? You use a biased sample that leaves out verses that imply that the trinity is one being. A biased sample gives a biased interpretation. We can’t find the truth if we ignore some of the evidence.

The Bible teaches that there is only one God (monotheism) (Dt. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4; 1 Tim. 2:5). Nevertheless, it is clear in the Bible that the Father is God (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Phil. 1:2), Jesus is God (e.g., Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-20; Tit. 2:13), and the Holy Spirit is God (e.g. Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 3:16). When these verses are considered along with the others, it’s clear that the trinity is one being but three persons. There is one God who exists as three persons. The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are different persons (or minds), but these three minds all exist as one being—God. And all three persons of the godhead are associated together on an equal basis in the Bible (Mt. 3:13-17; 28:19; Eph. 3:14-21; 1 Pt. 1:2; 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 Th. 2;13).

One of the principles of biblical hermeneutics is to use the Bible to help interpret itself (use Scripture to interpret Scripture). To interpret a passage without taking into account other passages that deal with the same topic can cause a poor interpretation. Ask, what other passages are related to the subject of this passage and how do they affect the understanding of this passage? We can practice this principle by using a Bible with cross-references in the margin.

Since the Bible is the Word of God and God cannot lie or contradict Himself (Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18), then one passage will never contradict another passage. If we incorrectly interpret a given passage, by studying other passages on the same topic, we can recognize our error. Human beings are fallible, but our mistakes of interpretation do not mean that the Bible is flawed. Usually it is our flawed interpretation that is the problem.

Commentator 30 November

George said “He uses a biased sample that leaves out verses that imply that the trinity is one being.” In reference to the 7 verses that said that the trinity was not one being.

Well George you have claimed that there is no contradiction in the bible. If you have multiple verses that clearly say that the trinity is three separate beings and then you have multiple verses that say that the trinity is one being that is the epitome of contradiction! You can’t have it both ways George! Nice try!

George says “The Bible teaches that there is only one God”. This is why the Christians had to tie themselves in a knot trying to explain that God had a son. It is simple logic that if God had a Son he would also be a god. That doesn’t sound very monotheistic now does it? That is why they had to come up with the Trinity in the first place. The Jews of the time would not accept a polytheistic religion like Christianity. I do not have my Bible with me right now but we will get back to the concept of the bible teaching only one god when I do.

George’s reply 17 December

Thanks for the last three comments. You criticize the Bible because you can find some people who make different interpretations of it and you can find ancient books that make statements that differ from it. But by using this method, other religions like Buddhism could also be criticized for the same reasons.

Commentator 18 December

This is no longer a discussion. Sadly you do not answer any of the questions I ask you and take my words and turn them around to try and score some sort of points. It began as a good discussion and I hoped that it would continue. It is a sad day! Hopefully during our discussions god has opened your eyes to be more tolerant of other faiths and that you can see that attacking them bears nothing but bad fruit. My god give you wisdom George. Well I am finished here. Merry Christmas to you and your family! I hope you have a pleasant holiday celebrating the birth of your lord.

George’s reply 25 December

Thanks. May God also give you wisdom. And may you also have a happy festive season over Christmas and the New Year.

Appendix A: Is the Trinity Taught in the Bible?
Link provided by commentator to a web page by Michael A. Barber.

In 1550 AD, in England, Joan Bocher was sentenced and burned to death. Her crime? The Encyclopedia Britannica (1964) says: “She was condemned for open blasphemy in denying the Trinity, the one offence which all the church had regarded as unforgivable ever since the struggle with Arianism.”

On October 27th, 1553 AD, Michael Servetus, a medical practitioner, was burned at the stake at Geneva, Switzerland, for denying the doctrine of the Trinity.

In 1693 AD a pamphlet attacking the Trinity was burned by order of the House of Lords, and the following year its printer and author were prosecuted.

In 1697 AD Thomas Aikenhead, an 18 year old student, was charged with denying the Trinity and hanged at Edinburgh, Scotland.

In 1711 AD Sir Isaac Newton’s friend, William Whiston (translator of the works of Jewish historian Josephus), lost his professorship at Cambridge for denying the Trinity.

An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture, detailing Sir Isaac Newton’s condemnation of the Trinity teaching, was first published in 1754, twenty-seven years after Newton’s death, due to the controversies surrounding the doctrine and the church’s treatment of those who denied it.

What is it about the doctrine of the Trinity that has created such extreme examples of religious intolerance? Moreover, what was it that the above people, and others like them, saw in this teaching that impelled them to deny it at such great cost?

The following questions help to identify clearly the issues involved in this article’s title. By examining these questions, and consulting the cited scriptures, the nature of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as taught in the Bible, will become clear.

  1. Advocates of the Trinity doctrine believe that the words of Jesus at John 10:30, “I and the Father are one,” refer to the teaching that Jesus is God. But how does John 10:30 harmonize with John 17:22, where Jesus says, “in order that they [that is, the disciples] may be one just as we are one”?
  2. In what sense, then, are the Father and the Son “one”?
  3. The Greek language has three words that correspond to the English word “one” using three genders, (1) masculine, (2) feminine, and (3) neuter. If the oneness of the Father and the Son was a reference to the “persons of the godhead,” which gender would be used in this context: masculine, feminine, or neuter?
  4. Which gender is used for “one” at John 10:30 and at John 17:22 in the Greek text of the inspired scriptures?
  5. What did Jesus mean when he said, “He that has seen me has seen the Father”?—John 14:9.
  6. How does the above scripture harmonize with Hebrews 1:3, where Jesus is referred to as the “exact likeness” of his Father (Today’s English Version)?
  7. How do some believe that the following scriptures — as read from the Authorised (King James) Version — support the Trinity: Philippians 2:6; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 5:7?
  8. Why do most other Bible versions not agree with the above renderings?
  9. The discovery of the Sinaitic manuscript (held at The British Library, but sometimes on view at the British Museum) shows how a “later hand” corrupted 1 Timothy 3:16 to read “he” rather than “who” — completely altering the sense of the verse. Would a sincere Bible student agree with the original, or with the corrupted version?
  10. Which version does the King James (AV)translation use?
  11. What did Jesus mean by his words “Abraham your father rejoiced greatly at the prospect of seeing my day”? — John 8:56.
  12. Why did the Jews then reply to Jesus, “You are not yet fifty years old, and still you have seen Abraham?” — John 8:57.
  13. What was the meaning of Jesus’ response in verse 58, “Before Abraham was, I am”? (King James)
  14. Is the expression translated “I am” in this verse the equivalent of the expression found at Exodus 3:14?
  15. Why do the following versions render John 8:58 thus:
    “I have existed before Abraham was born.”
       Moffatt, Schonfield, and An American Translation
    “Before Abraham came to be, I was.”
         Stage
    “Before there was an Abraham, I was already there!”
         Pfaefflin
    “Before Abraham was born, I was.”
         George M. Lansa, from the Syriac Peshitta
    “Before Abraham existed, I was existing.”
         ‘Sacred Bible’, Catholic Bible Center
  16. How does the authoritative work on Biblical Greek Moulton’s Grammar of New Testament Greek (Vol. III, page 62) explain the use of the Perfective Present (“I have been”) at John 8:58 where the Greek word EI.MI’ is used?
  17. When John the Baptist used the same Greek word (EI.MI’) at John 3:28, how does the context demonstrate that the Good News Translation rendering of “I have been sent ahead of him,” is superior to “I am sent before him” (Authorised Version)?
  18. Consequently, was Jesus not referring to the fact of his having existed since before the time of Abraham?
  19. Although Trinitarians claim there is a connection between what Jesus said at John 8:58 and what Jehovah said at Exodus 3:14, how does an examination of the original inspired language text reveal otherwise?
  20. Whilst the Hebrew term at Exodus 3:14 (EH.YEH’) is rendered “I am” in some translations, why is it that in every other instance of the rendering of this term in the Bible, these same Bible versions correctly translate it using the future tense: “I will be”?
  21. When Jehovah used the same expression, EH.YEH’, in Exodus 3:12, “certainly I will be with thee,” why do translations correctly use the future tense for verse 12, but choose the present tense when the same word is used in verse 14?
  22. Is it not clear that, in Exodus 3:14, Jehovah is referring to his future purposes, whereas at John 8:58, Jesus is referring to his past, his prehuman existence during the time of Abraham?
  23. In Daniel 7:13, 14, who is it that is referred to as the “Ancient of Days,” and also, who is the “son of man” who was given “dominion and glory”?
  24. Who granted the “son of man” this “dominion and glory”?
  25. Was the vision of an earthly, or a heavenly scene?
  26. Why was the Holy Spirit not mentioned?
  27. In Psalm 110:1, two “lords” are referred to (Authorised Version). What is the identify of each “lord”?
  28. How can God and Christ be “coequal” when Jesus said that his Father was greater than he is?—John 14:28.
  29. At Proverbs 8:22, 23, who is the “Creator” and who is the one “created” as the beginning of God’s works?
  30. Does the above scripture harmonise with Colossians 1:15, 16 and Revelation 3:14 concerning Jesus’ being the first of God’s creation?
  31. Mark 13:32 says that “no-one knows” the day or the hour of God’s coming judgement, not even the son “but only the Father.” How is this possible if Jesus is God?
  32. Further, why is it that the Holy Spirit does not know the day or hour?
  33. The 144,000 bear the name of the Father and the Son on their forehead, why not also the name of the Holy Spirit?—Revelation 14:1.
  34. Just before the disciple Stephen was stoned to death, he saw a vision of Christ standing at God’s right hand. Why didn’t he also see the Holy Spirit?—Acts 7:56.
  35. How did Jesus cause the disciples to receive Holy Spirit by blowing upon them?—John 20:22 (see Genesis 1:2).
  36. Does the use of a masculine pronoun (“he”) by itself prove that something is a person?—Joshua 24:27; Luke 7:35; Romans 5:14, 21; Revelation 16:7.
  37. Are Jesus, or his father Jehovah, ever referred to in the Bible by the impersonal pronoun “it”?—John 1:32; John 14:17; Romans 8:26.
  38. When the Bible uses the expression “the Holy Spirit said,” does this mean that the Holy Spirit is a person?
  39. Why, then, does Acts 4:25 say “the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David thy servant, didst say…”?
  40. When someone uses the expression “look what it says here in the newspaper,” do we conclude that the newspaper is literally speaking?
  41. As God’s Word is produced by his Holy Spirit, is it not clear that the “speaking” is done whenever we read his Word?
  42. When the Bible uses the expression “the Holy Spirit said,” who else in fact sometimes does the actual speaking? — Acts 19:6; 21:4.
  43. Which scriptures show that Jesus Christ was subject to his Father before his coming to earth, upon his coming to earth and lastly, after returning to heaven?
  44. The Bible repeatedly says that Jehovah is one God. How is this possible if he consists of three persons?
  45. Is Jesus also this one God?
  46. Does this “one God” consist of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as the “three persons in one God”?
  47. Why, then, did Paul speak of the one who is one God as being “the Father”? — 1 Corinthians 8:5, 6.
  48. Also, why, in the above scripture, is the “one God” separate and distinct from the “one Lord,” Jesus Christ?
  49. Why does Jesus refer to the Father as “my God” even after his return to heaven, if Jesus is said to be God? — Revelation 3:2, 12.
  50. Why does the much-used expression “God the son” not occur even once throughout the Bible?
  51. Though some translations use John 1:1 to support the Trinity, why do the following versions render it thus:
    “The Logos [Word] was Divine.”
    James Moffatt
    “The Word was Divine.”
       Smith-Goodspeed
    “The Word was itself of Divine Being.”
         Stage
    “And God [=of Divine Being] the Word was.”
         Menge
    “And God of a sort the Word was.”
         Thimme
  52. From a biblical perspective, can a human be called a god? — Psalm 82:1, 6; Acts 28:6.
  53. Can an angel be called a god?— Psalm 8:5.
  54. Can Satan be called a god? — 2 Corinthians 4:4.
  55. If the Hebrew word for God (E.LO.HIM’) can be used to mean something less than a god (for example, “great,” “mighty”), why is it so unusual that Christ is referred to as an E.LO.HIM’ at John 1:1 (using the Greek THE.OS’)? — Genesis 23:6; 30:8; Deuteronomy 28:32; 1 Samuel 14:15; Job 41:25 (v.17 in the Masoretic Text); Psalm 29:1; 36:6; 50:1; 82:1; 89:6; Ezekiel 17:13.
  56. What reason does Bible Translator William Barclay give for the absence of the definite article [“the”] before the “Word” at John 1:1?
  57. How does John 1:1 harmonise with John 1:18, where “the only-begotten god,” Jesus, is described as being in the bosom position with the Father?
  58. How does the above understanding further harmonise with Jesus’ statements explaining that he has not originated anything, but speaks only what his Father taught him to speak? — John 5:19, 30; 8:28.
  59. If Jesus and his apostles had taught the Trinity, why did unbelieving Jews, who bitterly and passionately opposed Christianity, not attack a doctrine that to them would have been abhorrent?
  60. If the Father and the Son are both said to be co-eternal and co-equal, why are there many references to the subordination of the Son to the Father (John 5:19, 30; 7:28; 8:28, 42; 12:49; 14:28; Romans 15:6; 1 Corinthians 15:28; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 3:14, etc.) but no references to the subordination of the Father to the Son?
  61. Why, when a certain ruler called Jesus “Good Teacher,” did Jesus refuse the title, saying that “nobody is good, except one, God”? — Mark 10:17, 18.
  62. At Matthew 4:1, Jesus is spoken of as being “tempted by the Devil.” But how could Jesus be tempted to be disloyal to God if he was God?
  63. When the apostle Paul described Jesus’ sacrifice as a “ransom” at 1 Timothy 2:6, he used the Greek term anti’lutron for “ransom.” However, the word for ransom is simply lu’tron (for example, as used at Matthew 20:28).  What do Greek scholars say about the term anti’lutron?
  64. As Jesus’ sacrifice bought back (repurchased) what Adam had lost (for example, Jesus himself is referred to as the “last Adam” at 1 Corinthians 15:45), if Jesus was God, how could he be the equivalent of the man Adam?
  65. How can Jesus be “co-eternal” with the Father if he is at the same time referred to as the “only-begotten Son”? — John 1:14; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9.
  66. Why did the Roman soldier say of Jesus “certainly this was God’s Son” if the disciples had taught that Jesus was God? — Matthew 27:54.
  67. Who is the “one mediator between God and men”? — 1 Timothy 2:5.
  68. Trinitarians point to Isaiah 9:6 where Jesus is called “Mighty God” in support of their teaching. But, although the expression “Mighty God” is here applied to Jesus, inasmuch as he is certainly the powerful “only-begotten god” (John 1:18), why is it that the Father is the only one to whom the expression Almighty God is used? — Genesis 17:1; Exodus 6:3; Job 34:10; Ezekiel 10:5.
  69. If Jesus was God, to whom did he ascend according to his own words to Mary Magdalene: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”? — John 20:17, RS, Catholic edition.
  70. What reason did Jesus give for his “going to the Father” at John 14:28?
  71. If Jesus himself taught that “the Father is greater than” the Son, how can the Son be co-equal with the Father, as the Trinity doctrine teaches? — John 14:28.
  72. At John 5:18, the Jews (in this case, the Pharisees) accused Jesus of “making himself equal with God.” Did the Pharisees accuse Jesus of claiming to be God?
  73. Jesus made a reply to the above accusation when he said: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do” (Authorised Version). How does this statement completely refute the claim of Jesus being “equal with God”?
  74. As Trinitarians sometimes use John 5:18 in support of their teaching, which of the following should be more important to Christians: the accusation of the Pharisees, or the response of the Lord Jesus Christ?

This is an extract from “The Trinity – In Light of the Harmony of the Holy Scriptures”, Michael A Barber (2017).

George’s reply

Barber’s comment on Isaac Newton is deceptive. Newton only addressed two verses (1 Tim. 3:16 and 1 Jn. 5:7) and his textural findings have been adopted in the modern critical text of the New Testament. But they have no implications on the Trinity because the teaching of the Trinity is mentioned many times in Scripture and doesn’t just rely on a few verses. Since early times (over 1,200 years before Newton) Christians have understood that the Bible teaches a triune God (see Appendix B).

Appendix B: Early Christian Creeds

Extracts from early Christian Creeds that mention the Trinity. These creeds were developed to counter Arianism (the heresy of denying the divinity of Christ).

Apostles Creed (AD 200)

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit …

Nicene Creed (AD 381)

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.

Athanasian creed (AD 500)

We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.

Written, September 2019


How did Jesus do miracles?

jesus-miracles-400pxI have been asked the question, “Where did Jesus’ power come from – God, Jesus Himself, and/or the Holy Spirit?” The Bible records that Jesus definitely had miraculous power. In His hometown Nazareth, the people asked, “Where did this man (Jesus) get this wisdom and these miraculous powers” (Mt. 13:54NIV)? Even king Herod said that “miraculous powers are at work in Him” (Mt. 14:2).

The miracles associated with Jesus were events that couldn’t be explained by natural occurrences. So they require supernatural explanations. That’s why they are said to confirm Christ’s divinity (Jn. 20:30-31).

As Jesus was sent to earth by God the Father, was this the source of His power?

God the Father

After Philip asked, “show us the Father”, Jesus said, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work” (Jn. 14:10). The NET translates “His work” as “His miraculous deeds”, and says that this is most likely a reference to the miracles that Jesus had performed as a manifestation of the mighty acts of God. And Luke said that God the Father did miracles through Jesus Christ and “because God was with Him” (Acts 2:22; 10:38). Finally, through His “incomparably great power” and “mighty strength”, God the Father, “raised Christ from the dead” (Eph. 1:19-20). This was the greatest miracle of all.

So, God the Father was the power behind Christ’s miracles. But as Jesus was a member of the divine trinity, was this another source of His power?

His own divine power

Jesus’ miracles demonstrated His amazing power. When Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee during a storm and calmed the storm, the disciples said “Truly you are the Son of God” (Mt. 14:22-32). When Jesus said He could forgive a paralyzed man’s sins and heal him, the religious leaders knew that only God could do this (Mt. 9:1-8; Mk. 2:5-12; Lk. 5:18-26). Then Jesus healed the paralytic (a visible miracle) to confirm that the man’s sins had been forgiven (an invisible miracle). And when Jesus healed a paralyzed man on the Sabbath day He referred to it as His work (Jn. 5:17). As Christ’s miracles provided evidence of His divinity, they were evidence of His inherent divine power (Jn. 20:31).

Luke said “the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick” (Lk. 5:17). The Greek noun kurios translated “Lord” (Strongs #2962) in this verse, which means master and owner, is applied to Jesus in Luke 5: 8, 12 elsewhere in this passage. Therefore, according to the context, in v.17 it means that Jesus had absolute power to heal the sick (some infer that the lack of an article in the Greek text implies the reference is to God the Father, but the article is also absent in verses 8 and 12). Contrary to some teaching, Jesus didn’t empty Himself of His divine power when He became a man (Phil. 2:7). Instead, He always had this divine power, which could be used when required.

When Jesus defended His claim to be equal with God He said, “the Son (Jesus) can do nothing by Himself, He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (Jn. 5:19). This doesn’t mean that Jesus had no inherent ability to accomplish anything miraculous on His own. He was so closely united with God the Father that He could only do the very things which He saw His Father doing. Jesus also said, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him (God the Father) who sent me” (Jn. 5:30). Jesus is so closely united with God the Father that He could not act by Himself. He could not do anything that was independent or inconsistent with His Father’s will. Instead, He was obedient to His Father and always in fellowship and harmony with Him. Finally, Jesus raised Himself from death (Jn. 2:19; 10:17-18). As already mentioned, this was the greatest miracle of all.

So, His own divine nature was the power behind Christ’s miracles. But as Jesus was “full of the (Holy) Spirit”, was this the source of His power (Lk. 4:1)?

The Holy Spirit

From His baptism, Jesus was indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:16; Lk. 4:18). During this period, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mt. 4:1); empowered Jesus’ return to Galilee (Lk. 4:14); empowered Jesus to drive out demons (Mt. 12:28); and empowered Jesus to instruct the apostles (Acts 1:2). When the 72 disciples returned with joy from a missionary trip, Jesus was “full of joy through the Holy Spirit” (Lk. 10:21). The sin of blasphemy against the Spirit was attributing Christ’s power over demons to Satan’s power rather than the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:31-32; Mk. 3:29).

According to Scripture, the main miracle associated with the Holy Spirit seems to be driving out demons. So, the Holy Spirit was the power behind some of Christ’s miracles.

Summary

We have seen that the Bible says Jesus had miraculous power and that the source of this power was God the Father, Christ’s divine nature and the Holy Spirit. So, the whole divine trinity provided the power for Christ’s miracles.

Written, November 2016

Also see: Why did Jesus do miracles?


Who raised Jesus from death?

cross_and_tomb-3Christ’s resurrection and the feeding of the 5,000 are the only miracles recorded in each of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John of the Bible. According to the Bible, Jesus was the first person to be raised from death to eternal life, never to die again (Rom. 6:9; 1 Cor. 15:23). But who raised Jesus back to life from death? The Bible gives various answers to this question.

God did it

The most frequent explanation is that God raised Jesus from death (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37; 17:31; Rom. 4:24; 10:9; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:15; Col. 2:12; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pt. 1:21). “God raised Him (Jesus) from the dead so that He (Jesus) will never be subject to decay” (Acts 13:34NIV). As Jesus was both a physical human being and the spiritual Son of God, the death and “decay” refer to His physical body, and not to His divine nature. Only people die, not spirits. His earthly body wasn’t eternal but was subject to death just as ours is.

Righteousness is promised “for us who believe in Him (God) who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He (Jesus) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:24-25). So Christ’s death dealt with the problem of our sins and the fact that He rose confirms that the price has been paid to make us right with God. As Paul says, ‘‘If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, you will be saved’ (Rom. 10:9).

Also, “by His power God raised the Lord (Jesus) from the dead, and He (God) will raise us also” (1 Cor. 6:14). So because God raised Jesus from death, in the future He will also raise the bodies of believers from death. Resurrection is the opposite of death. Death separates the body from the soul and spirit, while resurrection reunites them. But as noted above, it didn’t affect the divine part of Jesus.

God the Father did it

The Bible also says that God the Father raised Jesus from death (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:19-21; 1 Pt. 1:3). Paul said that through His “incomparably great power” and “mighty strength”, God the Father, “raised Christ from the dead and seated Him (Jesus) at His (God the Father’s) right hand in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 1:19-20). So Jesus was raised and given the place of highest honor and authority (the right hand) in God’s dwelling place (the heavenly realms).

It should be noted that some of the instances of the word “God” used in the context of Christ’s resurrection actually refer to God the Father (1 Th. 1:9-10).

Jesus did it

The Bible also says that Jesus raised Himself from death (Jn. 2:19; 10:17-18). Jesus told the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (Jn. 2:19-21). In this instance, the temple was a metaphor for His body. So to “destroy this temple” was a figurative way to predict His death and to “raise it again” was a figurative way to predict His resurrection. When Jesus said that He had the power to raise Himself back to life, it shows that He had divine power, because this is impossible for a human being to do.

When Jesus predicted that faithful Jews and faithful Gentiles would be united in the Christian church, He described how this would be made possible: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father (Jn. 10:17-18)”. To “lay down” one’s life is to die willingly and to “take it up again” is to resurrect back to life. So He willingly died and rose again for those who trust in the saving power of His death and resurrection. This passage says that Jesus used His divine power to rise from death in obedience to the command (instruction or plan) of God the Father. This was possible because His divine power wasn’t affected by His death – it wasn’t destroyed.

Did the Holy Spirit do it?

Some think that the Bible also says that the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from death (Rom. 8:11; 1 Pt. 3:18). Romans 3:18 says:
NIV: “And if (since) the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you”.
ESV: “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you”.
HCSB: “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you”.
NET: “Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through His Spirit who lives in you”. And according to the NET Bible “the one who raised Jesus from the dead” and “the one who raised Christ from the death” refer to God. So this verse belongs to the first category. “God did it”.

Another possibility is that the term “Spirit of Him” could be a title of the Holy Spirit like “Spirit of God” (Rom. 8:9). According to this interpretation, the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from death. But according to its context, this verse is saying that the Spirit of God within us is stronger than the sin that is in our bodies. Which is similar to “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). So this verse doesn’t definitely say that the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from death – it is only a debatable inference.

1 Peter 3:18 says that Christ was:
NIV: “made alive in the Spirit”.
ESV: “made alive in the spirit”.
HCSB: “made alive in the spiritual realm”.
NET: “made alive in the spirit”. And according to the NET Bible “The reference may not be to the Holy Spirit directly, but indirectly, since the Spirit permeates and characterizes the spiritual mode of existence”.
As most of these contemporary translations don’t capitalize “spiritual”, there is no conclusive evidence in 1 Peter 3:18 that the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from death.

Summary

The Bible definitely teaches that Jesus was raised from the dead by God, God the Father and by Himself. Is this a contradiction? No, because God the Father and Jesus Christ are referred to as “God” in the Bible and they can do what God alone can do (Heb. 1:8).

None of the verses say that God the Father alone raised Jesus from the dead, or that Jesus by Himself without the aid of the Father raised Himself, or that Jesus didn’t have the power to raise Himself. Paul called Jesus “the author of life” (Acts 3:15) and Jesus certainly had the power to resurrect Lazarus back to life (Jn. 11:11-44). Furthermore, Jesus told Martha “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25).

Also, it doesn’t follow that the Father and the Son must be one and the same person in order for all these statements to be correct, since all that is required is for them to have the same ability and power to raise the dead. After all, Jesus said that He could do everything that the Father does (Jn. 5:19-24).

Whether the Holy Spirit, who is also referred to as “God” (Acts 5:3-4), was involved in the Resurrection of Christ is a debatable matter as the Bible doesn’t seem to provide conclusive evidence of this.

Written, October 2016


What is the Trinity doing today for the believer?

God is three persons in one – Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19; Acts 2:32-33; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2). In a way that only He can understand, God is a trinity: three in one and one in three. The relationship between each member of the Godhead and the believer is outlined below.

First, God is their Father (Jn. 20:17; Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 4:6-7) and they are His children (1 Jn. 3:1). He has a great inheritance for them. God hears their prayers and forgives them when they confess and repent (Acts 8:22, Eph. 3:14-19; Col. 1:3). In response, they should serve God the Father (Rev. 1:6).

Second, the Lord Jesus Christ (the Son) is now in heaven preparing a place for them (Mk. 16:19; Jn. 14:2). When they sin He defends them and pleads their case (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 1 Jn. 2:1). He also sustains the universe they live in (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3).

Third, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would live in all His followers (Jn. 14:17; Acts 2:38-39). The Holy Spirit is their counselor, advocate, intercessor and comforter (Jn. 16:7). He teaches and reminds them (Jn. 14:26); testifies about Christ (Jn. 15:26); convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment (Jn. 16:8-11); guides them into truth and reveals the things of God to them (Jn. 16:13-15); calls them to specific ministries (Acts 13:2-4); forbids certain actions (Acts 16:6-7); intercedes for them in prayer (Rom. 8:26-27); guides their prayers (Jude 20); and changes their character to be more like Christ (Gal. 5:22-25).

It is good for the believer to know and understand what each member of the Triune Godhead is doing for those who are His.

Published, October 2007